Every morning, we compile the links of the day and dump them here… highlighting the big storyline. Because there’s nothing quite as satisfying as a good morning dump.
“These are dog days. This is when you really see who’s with you right now. You know, ain’t nobody cheering. Ain’t no lights on us right now. And I love this right here, because this is when all the plastic people melt. So we’ve all got to look at ourselves in the mirror, including myself, and try to figure out what I can do better to help this team.”
There’s nothing Kevin Garnett loves more than a good test of manhood. That’s because KG has been around long enough to be tested in some of the worst ways. He played for the Timberwolves, for Christ’s sake… if any NBA player gets the constant tests and struggles of the NBA, it’s KG.
So here the Celtics sit. Two games under .500 and looking like a lost, broken team. And what’s Kevin Garnett doing? Glowering around the room, with his eyes peering just under the slope of his brow, looking to see who is willing to keep fighting with him in the trenches…. looking to see who has the balls to do what’s necessary to pull this thing together.
And what happens when he spots someone who isn’t willing? Well… let’s just say someone’s gotta wave the towels from the end of the bench.
I get accused of being overly optimistic around here, but here’s what I see with this team.
Rajon Rondo is getting torched off the dribble. He’s just become terrible guarding the ball. That means opposing point guards live in the lane. They set up a barbecue, invite friends over, crack a few brews, and have a grand ol’ party. When the bigs come over to break up that party, someone comes in the back door and robs them.
The Celtics rotations have been horrible, too. Once upon a time, when the Celtics closed out on guys, they kept the guy in front of them. Now, they’re getting smoked too. So when teams move the ball around, C’s defenders are running at guys so hard, they get beat off the dribble too. Which puts even MORE pressure on the bigs, which means even more guys score in the paint.
And the bigs haven’t exactly held their own, either. They’re over-compensating, a lot, and leaving large gaps in the defense.
Why is all this happening? You’ll have to ask Rondo why he’s let his on-ball defense slip so much. He could be hurt (have you seen how much he’s wrapped up sometimes?)… he could be saving himself for the offensive end… who knows.
The second part? That’s bad execution. That’s a lack of control. When you’re putting yourself in such bad position that you have to sprint out to a guy out of control, you’re opening yourself up to fakes and blow-bys. Maybe the bad execution is due to guys being down about their offense (which Doc has hinted at)… maybe some of these guys are just bad defenders who can’t execute the plan.
And as for the bigs… maybe they’re too focused on helping the guards to do their own jobs sometimes.
Those are all big problems defensively. But my reason for optimism, or a least a lack of panic, is that these are correctable. It starts with Bradley returning Wednesday, taking the on-ball defending job away from Rondo, and maybe helping the rest of those guys focus on their defensive jobs more. From there, guys like Brandon Bass and Courtney Lee need to just wake their asses up and play basketball.
Some of you guys can scream for trades and a new coach (which blows my mind, but it’s happening). I’m not ready to bury this team like some people are. I’m also not delusional about where we stand. They’re not good right now. But we’ve seen them be good. And they have good players who are not playing well.
I’ll throw this at you guys again. The Celtics are just 3 games out of the 4th seed and home court in the first round of the playoffs. If you choose to panic when the ball in Times Square hasn’t dropped yet, and the C’s are still that close to the top half of the seeding… that’s on you, plastic people.
I feel the heat too, but it’s not time to melt…. yet.
Related links: CSNNE: Garnett: “‘This is where all the plastic people melt’
The rest of the links:
CSNNE: Cousins shows C’s what hype is about | Defense flops in Sacramento | ESPN Boston: Where’s the defense? | Doc: We were bad the whole trip | Globe: Bradley waits for his return | Celtics clobbered again | Herald: Rondo returns, but struggles